Re: New slant: professionalism

Subject: Re: New slant: professionalism
From: "Pilipovich, Kathleen" <Kathleen -dot- Pilipovich-1 -at- KMAIL -dot- KSC -dot- NASA -dot- GOV>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 11:45:53 -0400

Hi all, I'm a little late responding because I was on vacation Friday.
I've read the latest postings but would still like to offer this.

George writes:
To enlighten you, most mil-spec based documentation
>must be clear, concise and easy to read, as the audience is
>typically comprised of enlisted men and women, most of
>whom have only a high school education.

Jane writes:
> How many people have you run into who, when you tell
>them you're a technical writer, laugh about "those computer
>manuals that no one can understand"? Those are the legacy
>of early tech writers who wrote mil specs...
Mil spec documentation is not limited to the military. Lots of
government agencies use it. While the military may emphasize
readability while using mil spec standards for formatting, many
other agencies do not. My experience is dealing with the latter.
I deal with SMEs who are so used to seeing documentation in
mil spec, that they're not open to any other format. Their excuse
is that we are government contractors and we need to conform
to mil spec standards. The SMEs I work with spend more time
defending the use of mil spec format than developing usable
I don't want to start a holy war on the formatting issue. The
point is that George has experience using mil spec format where
the emphasis was readability. That was his experience. Others
have not been so lucky. Jane globally states that all documents
written in mil spec standards are unreadable. Another statement
based on her experience. It is possible to write usable
documentation using mil spec standards. As technical writers,
we write the best documentation we can based on the guidelines
we're given.
I'm not trying to be the list server police. But I think we should
stay away from making global statements. Why not say IMO or
my experience has been... because we all have very strong
opinions based on the experiences we've had. When we read
others opinions, we should keep this in mind. After all, having
different opinions is what makes this list server a valuable tool for
us. I've learned so much from you guys in the 2 months that I've
subscribed to this list. I just hate to see statements like:

>No apology you might consider rendering will ever be adequate
>enough to suit me, so don't try to give one.

Keep the good info rolling. Just my $.02!

Kathy Pilipovich
United Space Alliance
Kathleen -dot- Pilipovich-1 -at- ksc -dot- nasa -dot- gov

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